Enterprise Connect Highlights Growth of Multichannel Communications Models

Cindy Whelan
Cindy Whelan

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud-based UC and mobility go hand in hand; full integration of mobile devices with business applications and collaboration services will come to be expected over time.
  • Video is taking on a more prominent role in the UC continuum as telepresence vendors and service providers add support for simple user interfaces and improved interoperability.

I recently attended the Enterprise Connect show, held March 18-21 in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms Hotel, a venue referred to as “the terrarium” by one of my colleagues due to the hotel atrium’s clear roof and ponds filled with crocodiles.  In addition to enjoying the wildlife, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of companies at the show.  As one would expect, cloud-based UC was a popular topic of discussion, and video is acquiring a more integrated role in the UC arena; there were at least nine sessions relating to video conferencing, more than any other service area.  Here are some highlights from the conference:

  • Cisco and Microsoft are the two main vendors behind carriers’ UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) offers via Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) and Lync.  Most Tier 1 service providers offer the Cisco-based solution, and a larger percentage of carriers of all sizes support Lync.  Alcatel-Lucent and Avaya are now moving into this space with the launch of cloud communications platforms targeting carriers, among other clients.  Service providers cite seeing increased enterprise interest in, and uptake of, UCaaS for at least some elements of their overall communications solutions.
  • Mobility is integral to UC solutions, although there still remain some issues around interoperability across operating systems.  While carriers include mobility in their UC services, there is still some variation based on operating system support, between device user interfaces and other areas that are still under development.  There is talk about the demise of the desk phone, and while this will not happen in the next year or two, it is clear that the future workforce will expect mobile devices to be their primary method of communication.
  • Provision of open APIs (application programming interfaces) is something we are seeing across the board, from carriers such as AT&T and Verizon (supporting open APIs to their services to foster development of applications, particularly mobile apps) to vendors.  AT&T’s new Managed Lync offer includes support for open APIs to enable developers of Microsoft Lync customers to create new applications.  WebRTC, which was a focus area at the show, is designed to support an open development environment to enable real-time communications.
  • We are starting to see the convergence of video conferencing into broader UC solutions, as telepresence providers support standard clients as well as Lync, Google Talk and Skype.  Carriers are adding easy-to-use video conference options such as reservationless video.  As price points come down and simplicity and interoperability increase, telepresence will become more widely used.

There was much more at the show, beyond what I can include in this brief blog post.  Current Analysis will be hosting a webinar on April 17 and 18, where analysts from across several practice areas will discuss our perceptions and takeaways from the show.  You can sign up for the webinar here.

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